I used an external USB drive and was able to boot Debian Live CD.
That's all that seems to work, my internal drive on AHCI or IDE did not work.
I believe all of my BIOS settings are back to how I need them, and I can even detect my RAID volume once booted up.
Frustrating, I know Linux and new hardware don't always mix but this one was incredibly difficult.
I have been using the Intel DX79TO motherboard with an i7 3930k processor in a Cooler Master case, nVidia G210 video card and 32 GB RAM as the basis for a Vyatta-based high performance router. This Debian-based OS is EXTREMELY 'locked-down' so even getting the drivers onto it is a bit difficult. However, my system has been rock solid.
I do not know if this will assist you, but I have seen the following article written about testing the i7 3960 with an Intel DX79SI motherboard, using Ubuntu [Ubuntu 11.10 and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (development snapshots)] as the OS:
Here is a quotation from Page 02 of that article:
"The i7-3960X has been running fine on Ubuntu 11.10 and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (development snapshots) for my testing."
There is a significant issue discussed on Page 03:
"The system was working flawlessly for the first few days, but then all of a sudden the Linux kernel could not successfully boot, as the CPU would stall. It is all talked about in the previous article, but the workaround I discovered was to disable the dynamic power technology, which unfortunately disables the Turbo Boost support. This issue is still being investigated."
and later on that page:
"In the forums is also a Core i7 3930X owner that's also reported a similar issue under Linux, but I have not heard of any other reports of this issue. There is also a somewhat similar Red Hat bug report for other hardware, but the workaround of blacklisting the p4-clockmod kernel module was of no help. Intel engineers have not experienced such an issue in their months of work. When any new information is discovered it will be passed along, but fortunately, the benchmarks for this article were completed before running into the Linux bug."
and Page 12:
"The only technical issue with this $1000 CPU is the Linux kernel booting issue that was hit a few days into the testing process, which requires dynamic power management to be disabled. This issue is still being explored and there will be an update on Phoronix when any new information is discovered, but I do not believe this to be a widespread issue based upon the comments by Intel and not hearing many negative reports from other early Sandy Bridge-E users."
I hope that helps.
I am about to purchase an i7-3960X to use with Ubuntu 12.04, and stumbled across the post mentioned by I.t.-drone . It was published by Phoronix in December 2011, so I was wondering whether there were any updates on that issue. Is it confirmed or resolved? Does anybody have experience with the Sandy Bridge Extreme Processors and Linux? Matt, how did you end up with your system?
Actually I had some experience with DX79SI, 3960X and Ubuntu 12.04 http://communities.intel.com/message/154795#154795 . During the tests period I had no MB-related troubles in Linux, but i use a Server edition of OS. Probably Server edition have fixes in kernel for Intel Xeon line and its derivatives. Also look at CPU support updates for Linux OSes in Download Center
Just wanted to say I did eventually get the system going. At the time the BIOS was terrible... looks like there's been 6 updates since then!
I built the system for a researcher at the unviersity I work at and had to restore a disk image of a box running Ubuntu 10. Eventually it all worked out and I havent heard a word from him.
Absolutely update the BIOS on the board, get the enweest version, clear the CMOS and then configure and install your OS.